There has been a lot of speculation in the media regarding Oscar Pistorius and his apparent lack of empathy while on the stand. It would seem that viewers feel that his dead pan voice and restricted, mostly-unemotional answers indicate that he is a man devoid of true remorse or regret. Of course, he has shown a fair amount of raw emotion accompanied by tears and even vomiting at times, but it is not difficult to for state prosecutor to convince us that his emotions are simply about himself and the losses he has had to face and will have to face if he gets convicted. Just from looking at this weekend’s headlines, it is easy to get a sense that people believe he is being dishonest and almost people, when asked, say they think he is guilty. This apparent ease at which he is delivering these lies has caused many others to throw the word “psychopath” around.
Some people diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder are characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance. They have a sense of entitlement and demonstrate grandiosity in their beliefs and behavior. They have a strong need for admiration, but lack feelings of empathy.
Symptoms of this disorder, as defined by the DSM-IV-TR, include:
- Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments
- Expects constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others
- Envies others and believes others envy him/her
- Is preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence
- Lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others
- Is arrogant in attitudes and behavior
- Has expectations of special treatment that are unrealistic
Other symptoms in addition to the ones defined by DSM-IV-TR include: Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends, has trouble keeping healthy relationships with others, easily hurt or rejected, appears unemotional, and exaggerating special achievements and talents, setting unrealistic goals for himself/herself.
Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by dramatic, emotional behavior, and an over-inflated sense of self-importance that is in the same category as antisocial and borderline personality disorders.
Does our understanding of OP fit with this symptomology?